Todd Litman, a transport expert visiting Wellington from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, told a recent Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Centre seminar that the Government’s Roads of National Significance plans (which include the proposed Basin Reserve flyover) are a decade too late, because car use has peaked.

As reported by Wellington Scoop, Todd Litman said:

It’s time to employ a new urban planning model – one that favours accessibility over mobility – in order to meet increased consumer demand for walking, cycling and public transport.

Todd Litman went on to make some points that all New Zealand transport planners – and political parties – should be listening to. To again quote the Wellington Scoop report:

Decline in the auto industry is due to an ageing population, increases in fuel cost, urbanization, traffic and parking congestion, roading costs, changing consumer preferences, environmental and health concerns. He cited an Economist article from 22 September 2012 that went further, showing how the next generation is less inclined to get behind the wheel, and not even learning how to drive until later in life, if at all.

“Change in consumer demands is a terrific opportunity to save money and satisfy people’s demand for walking, biking, and public transport,” he added. “Unfortunately, the planning community is not taking advantage of this. We need to expand the scope of planning objectives. Formerly, it was focused on the speed of travel. I think there are a number of other objectives.”

The full presentation and audio from Todd Litman’s presentation have now been placed online by Motu. You can access them here:

We’d like to congratulate Motu for having the foresight to organise this seminar – and thank Todd Litman for bringing a reality check to a New Zealand transport planning scene that is dominated by outdated assumptions and business-as-usual thinking.